Love in a Time of Homeschooling is a sweet little homeschooling memoir, written by Laura Brodie.
From the beginning, Brodie is honest about her desire to homeschool for one year only, to give her fifth grade daughter Julia a much-needed break from the monotony of the public school schedule and the ridiculous homework load.
“Many committed homeschoolers will cringe at the idea of a one-year experiment,” Brodie admits. “Studies show that the academic benefits of homeschooling (higher test scores and college admission rates) emerge only after several years of work. And the emotional benefits that many homeschoolers cite—enthusiasm for lifetime learning, strengthened family ties—develop slowly over many years.”
But short term homeschooling is a growing trend in America. People do it to expose kids to ideas and experiences beyond the usual curriculum and also because of sudden crises.
As Brodie developed her homeschool plan, it was inspirational to see the excitement build as she hoped to pass on her love of certain subject matters to her daughter.
Brodie planned field trips for the year, including one to a local mill, which was rewarding because she “sensed that Julia needed lessons in the marvels of human life as much as lessons in math and English. Much of the time she had spent in school seemed to have convinced her that human existence was a dreary affair filled with tests and worksheets and homework. And although hard work is an inescapable part of life, the world I wanted to show my daughter was also full of wonder.”
I love this sentiment because showing my kids a world that is full of wonder is a huge motivator for me in choosing to homeschool them. I want my kids to be free to explore and grow. Homeschooling helps to buy more childhood for them.
Brodie ponders the question of when to push her dreamy, reflective child with structured tasks and when to step back. How hard should a parent push a child toward success? Should a parent “push” at all? These are questions I have wrestled with as well, because I want my kids to be engaged in what they are learning, but I also want them to be disciplined and not waste time.
Brodie is brutally honest about her failures and impatience during her year of homeschooling. She also discovers something that’s missing from the plethora of homeschooling books she read in preparation to homeschool.
“Only one thing bothered me as I read [these homeschooling books],” says Brodie. “None of these authors described the daily struggles of homeschooling. They mulled over curricula and philosophies and all the flaws of traditional schools, but they didn’t discuss the power struggles and irrational moments of fury that emerge in any family, no matter how loving.”
Yes! I could add a few things like: exhaustion, tension from siblings bickering and fighting, dealing with constant distractions, wondering if your kids are listening to you at all, and mom guilt because I feel like I can’t give everyone the attention I want to give them. This is only a partial list.
As much as we all love homeschooling, let’s not delude ourselves. There are times when homeschooling is a battle and it’s really tough. I know the sacrifices are ultimately worth it—BUT can we all just be honest for a minute here and admit that there are indeed sacrifices.
“When the air grew cold and the trees fell bare and we retreated more and more indoors, Julia and I started to seriously grate on each other’s nerves.”
“Just as there is no place like home, there is no anger like homeschooling anger.”
In the end the author realizes that, while there were problems and relational struggles, the good things that unfolded during their year of homeschooling were very beneficial indeed. In addition to academic progress, both mother and daughter formed lasting memories.
Brodie sticks with her original plan and her daughter reenters public school for sixth grade. She also leaves open the possibility of homeschooling other children in the future, or homeschooling Julia again on a part-time basis, which their school district allows.
Brodie concludes that all good parents are homeschoolers. By this she means that parents who are intentional will “homeschool’ regardless of whether or not their kids also attend a traditional school. This takes place in conversations, spending time as a family, going on walks, and visiting museums, etcetera.
What would Brodie do differently if she were to homeschool again? Beginning from day one, she says that she would have “more patience, more humor, and more openness to outrageous fun.”
My heart was warmed while reading about Brodie, a mom who simply wanted the best for her daughter, and so she taught her at home.
Photo Credit: First picture and graphic design by Anna Soltis. Second image courtesy of author.